LIVERPOOL VS BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
| Saturday, August 25th |
Premier League | Anfield
4:30 PM GMT / 5:30 PM BST / 12:30 PM EST
The final game of last season Liverpool welcomed Brighton & Hove Albion to Anfield and won 4-0. Mohamed Salah started the scoring in the twenty-sixth minute and the Reds ended an excellent second half to the season with a flourish. Brighton will now return to Anfield on Saturday, hoping to give Liverpool more of a game this time, buoyed by a surprising 3-2 win over Manchester United last weekend.
Jürgen Klopp has spoken highly of Brighton manager Chris Hughton before and believes that the seaside club are always a threat. Hughton has overseen Brighton’s fight for survival in the Premier League, seeing the club to a 15th place finish last season, and the Seagulls are expected to be a more dangerous opponent this time around.
Brighton striker Glenn Murray was on the score sheet against United and should be a significant target to be stopped by Liverpool’s defense. The 34-year-old Murray is one of those players that proves to be more threatening than he looks.
Set pieces will be particularly important battles on the pitch for Brighton with Murray and Shane Duffy and Thomas Bong all over six-feet tall. Virgil Van Dijk and (presumably) Joe Gomez will have their work cut out for them defending free kicks into the box.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keïta, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Aside from whether it’s Gomez or Joël Matip who partners Van Dijk in defense, the biggest question marks for team selection are in the midfield. Naby Keita, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner have started the opening two matches. But it might be time for Jordan Henderson to return to the XI. The Liverpool captain should be fully fit and able to play the majority of the game, if not the full ninety. And the smart move might be to give Milner a rest after two high-intensity matches from the 32-year-old.
And don’t forget about Fabinho. Klopp has yet to include the Brazilian defensive midfielder, but the most plausible scenario is that Fabinho gets himself a spot on the bench and maybe a second half substitution if the boys are cruising.
It remains to be seen whether or not the manager is ready to begin any sort of squad rotation. It’s still early days and the plan could be to stick with what is working. Of course, defensively, there’s always a chance that Klopp turns to Nathaniel Clyne and/or Alberto Moreno for the full-back positions, just to get the players some minutes on the pitch.
Liverpool are expected to win this match handily. Manchester City will be a strong contender for the Premier League title again this season and Liverpool will have to keep up a steady pace of wins if they are going to beat the champions. This is a winnable game against Brighton, a team who will still have plenty of struggles to stay in the league, and while a loss in the third match of the season wouldn’t be catastrophic, it would be bad for my happiness and my generally, sunny disposition.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “It’s just a great team and I really respect what Chris Hughton is doing there.”
Chris Hughton: “I hope that result [Brighton’s win over Manchester United] has done a lot for our confidence and mentality because an away game at Liverpool, they almost don’t come any tougher than that. We will need to show a lot of the qualities we showed last week. I expect it to be faster and more intense than United.”
Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Lee Betts, Simon Long Fourth official: Craig Pawson
Kickoff is set for 4:30 PM GMT/12:30 PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.